FLUSHED WITH JOY: Alex residents say it’s like living in Sandton as smelly buckets are replaced

Everson Luhanga

For over 20 years they lived with evil smelling bucket toilets right outside their doors, but the brand new flushing toilets handed over to residents in Alexandra have ended the suffering of nearly 200 families who were using the bucket system.

Nikelwa Pongco said finally, people in that area will breathe a sigh of relief. 

“The place was worse than being in prison. We were forced to live in a smelly area because this was the only place we could call home,” she said.

She said the buckets were only cleared once a week. 

“For the whole week, we were forced to use the dirty toilets. It was the most inhuman experience I have ever had,” she said.

Those toilets were a terrible reminder of what poverty looked like.”

The overjoyed Nikelwa and her neighbours ululated, cheered and shouted at the top of their voices when officials cut the ribbon handing over the flush toilets.

“I feel like I have relocated. I feel like I’m living in Sandton!” she said.

“We finally have toilets that we can use without wondering what the previous person did. I can now chat on WhatsApp while I’m in the toilet.” 

Nonkululo Pyomsa said they closed the doors and windows when they wanted to have a meal. 

“The situation got worse during lockdown where we had to be home all the time facing the stench,” she said.

The new toilets were made possible after 30 Strong Voices of Alex was formed during lockdown level five to help police to reinforce the lockdown regulations and they discovered the plight of the people.

Group chairperson Adolf Marema said it is sad that there are people the government has “forgotten” just kilometres away from Sandton. 

He said 30 Strong Voices of Alex partnered with funders like Return2Love and Rebosis. 

“The toilets will restore people’s dignity,” he said.

“Our partnership made this achievement possible.”